OSHA initiative for safer trench work

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is releasing new guidelines that could make trenching and excavation work safer for employees in Texas. This National Emphasis Program (NEP) comes as a response to a number of trench-related deaths and accidents in recent years.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Data, there were 130 fatalities linked to trenching and excavation between 2011 and 2016. Most of the deaths (80 percent) were in the private construction industry.


OSHA has recently assessed fines against companies that failed to keep their workers safe. For example, a $400,000 penalty was assessed against one company for failing to prevent trench cave-ins and other violations. A proposed $250,000 fine was assessed against another company for failing to provide trench cave-in protections to workers.


The NEP will facilitate outreach programs at local offices to educate managers about trench work safety. As part of the program, local offices will conduct drive-by inspections and stop to inspect any areas where they observe trench work being conducted.


Some experts believe that allowing these drive-by inspections goes against the current law, which requires OSHA to get an administrative warrant before it can do an inspection. An administrative warrant must be in response to a specific complaint or because the site was chosen as part of a general administrative plan on the basis of neutral sources.


An attorney with experience in workplace safety litigation may be able to advise a worker who has been injured on the job. A workplace injury often comes with pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages and prescription costs. Worker’s compensation is intended to cover these costs for employees who were injured at work. If a company’s insurance policy has denied a worker’s compensation claim, an attorney may be able to help.

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